A total of 6,585 euthanasia or mercy killing acts have been carried out in the Netherlands since the practice was legalized more than 15 years ago, the latest report from the regional monitoring committee revealed.
The annual report showed that there was an 8 percent rise in assisted deaths in the country from 2016 to 2017. There was also a notable increase in the euthanasia rate in cases related to patients with dementia, Alzheimer's disease or other psychiatric problems.
At least 90 percent of these assisted suicide cases were carried out on patients who suffered from cancer, Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis (MS). Jacob Kohnstamm of the committee believes that these numbers will continue to rise in the next few years. The termination of a patient's life is usually carried in people above 70 years old.
"Doctors know more about euthanasia and people are more aware of the issues," Kohnstamm told NRC. "Given the post war population increase, this trend will continue."
The report also stated that most of the cases followed the country's strict laws on euthanasia. Nevertheless, the committee learned that there had been 12 life terminations that were problematic, such that the patients did not ask for a second opinion about their condition or they were not provided with proper medical care before they opted for assisted suicide.
A separate study on euthanasia in the Netherlands that was conducted in August 2017, however, suggested that there had been 431 cases done without the patient's consent. One woman, whose mother died through mercy killing without a request, shared her story in an upcoming documentary movie about the practice in the Netherlands.
The Archbishop of Utrecht, Cardinal Willem Eijk, has been vocal about the country's laws on euthanasia. He believed the law simply changed how doctors would be able to kill the patients and it was not about the patient's welfare.
The Netherland's established its Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act in 2002.